Barcelona took a giant leap towards the La Liga title after edging out Real Madrid 2-1 at Camp Nou last night to go 12 points clear at the top of the table.
Madrid took an early lead after a deflected goal from Ronald Araujo, although it was Barca who dominated the proceedings and looked more dangerous.
Xavi’s side got their deserved equaliser at the stroke of half-time with the help of Sergi Roberto.
Barca continued to produce more promising chances in the second half, only to be let down by the lack of productivity in the final third.
Madrid nearly stunned the home fans after Marco Asensio found the back of the net, with the sequence stemming from Barca’s defensive lapse.
Fortunately for Barca, the goal was ruled offside by VAR, keeping the scoresheet intact.
To pile further misery on Los Merengues, Barca netted the winning goal in injury time, with substitute Franck Kessie finishing off Alejandro Balde’s cross.
Madrid, who went into the game on the back of a great result against Liverpool in the Champions League, failed to improve their form in La Liga.
The Catalan giants made an emphatic statement with another victory in El Clasico, and they now really can envisage lifting the La Liga title.
Here are the key takeaways from the Clasico.
Xavi’s record in Clasico gets better and better
As a player, Xavi proved to be a nightmare for Real Madrid players during many previous Clasicos. He is now doing it again in the form of a manager.
The legendary Spanish midfielder continues to rack up impressive numbers against Madrid, winning the four out of six as Barca’s manager.
Last night’s victory was also Barca’s third consecutive Clasico win, which also means that Xavi has become the first manager to win three Clasicos in a year since Pep Guardiola in 2011.
Los Blancos manager Carlo Ancelotti may be a world-beater after putting some of the world’s top clubs to the sword in recent years, but he is a mere mortal whenever he is up against Xavi.
Frenkie de Jong’s another Clasico masterclass
De Jong has become one of the pivotal players for Barca under Xavi.
Unperturbed by the constant speculation surrounding his future, De Jong continues to do the talking on the pitch, and last night’s masterclass was his best of the season.
The Dutch midfielder hardly put a foot wrong and was arguably one of the best players on the pitch, even schooling veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.
Lionel Messi was the master of Clasicos – Sergi Roberto, who was on the scoresheet, also boasts an impressive record against Madrid.
But De Jong has always been seen at his best during the Clasicos and cherishes playing against Los Blancos.
Xavi recently called the Dutchman one of the best midfielders in the world, and last night’s performance is further proof of this.
Toothless Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior
During the last Clasico in Copa del Rey earlier this month, Madrid struggled to register a single shot on target, with Barca coming out as winners in the first leg of the semi-finals.
Karim Benzema and Vinicius had one of their most difficult nights this season, completely kept at bay by Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde.
But after a scintillating performance against Liverpool in the Champions League round of 16, the attacking duo were expected to carry their form to Camp Nou last night.
However, their influence was limited by Barca’s defence. Vinicius looked dangerous on a few occasions, but he lacked the final ball.
Benzema was nowhere to be found and probably played his worst game of the season.
The French striker has been hampered by several injury problems, which also prevented him from showing the world-class form that brought him the Ballon d’Or last year.
Chelsea may be looking at Barca and will try to take a leaf out of their book on how to defeat Madrid in the UCL quarter-finals next month.
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